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Edible Landscaping - What to Grow?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hiya,  

 

So we've had the landscaper out to help us plan what to do with our disaster of a yard - it was a rental for some time before we got the house, and then we've been free ranging our hens in the back, so disaster is the right word.  We'll pretty much be starting from scratch.  The landscaper is more for the big stuff - grading, patio, fence, irrigation, etc - we'll be doing a lot of the lighter work.

 

I'm creating a list of plants to use (we're in dry Eastern WA, zone 5 or very optimistically, zone 6, at the very best 120 frost free days - though it's usually shorter).  I know that there are a lot of great plants out there for looks, and great ones for eating, but I want the best of both worlds.  I also prefer things that can be eaten straight, frozen, or baked with as-is.  Growing lots of things that are only palatable if made into jam or pies with loads of sugar isn't the main goal.  We have some veg, I want a herb garden for cooking, and lots of small fruit.  We don't have room for many big trees, and the neighbors have trees around us, so light as at a premium.  

 

Yep, I've tried the Master Gardeners, etc, but the whole edible landscaping thing hasn't really caught on here yet - Seattle or Portland, we're not.  Most of their material is geared toward mainstream, non-organic gardening.

 

Anybody have any experience with these, in terms of growing ease (organically), taste, 4 season beauty, best varieties to grow etc:

 

Geraldi dwarf mulberry

 

Cornus mas cornellian cherries (probably Sunrise, Elegant, or Yellow would be my picks to grow - Black Plum if I could find it)

 

Viburnum Trilobum 'Wentworth' (yep, mostly jam, but it will look nice in the front for all 4 seasons)

 

Arctic Kiwi

 

Goumi

 

Clove currant

 

Aronia (needs sugar, I know, but it is pretty)

 

Serviceberries/Saskatoons

 

European plums - there is a Golden Weeping Italian that looks interesting, as well as 'Nichols', a red one.  But I want taste, too.

 

We already have raspberries and a pear, and will add an apricot in the more normal line of things....

 

Any other advice on edible landscaping?  

post #2 of 4

http://www.raintreenursery.com/

 

Geraldi dwarf mulberry--Not this one.  Mulberries are finicky to start, but are reputed to be tough-as-nails once established.

 

Cornus mas cornellian cherries (probably Sunrise, Elegant, or Yellow would be my picks to grow - Black Plum if I could find it)  Only in WW.  Should be hardy there, though.  Slow-growing, tendency towards bushiness.

 

Viburnum Trilobum 'Wentworth' (yep, mostly jam, but it will look nice in the front for all 4 seasons)

 

Arctic Kiwi  I would choose Ananasnaya hardy kiwi.  I forget, isn't "Arctic" the variegated one? I forget.  There is one self-fertile hardy kiwi, but it is not nearly as good or vigorous as the one I mentioned.  You'd need male and female--give female the big, well-supported spot, the male can grow in a tight space in shadier spots.

 

Goumi  Yumyumyum.  Russion olive, a goumi relative, is a bad weed in E. WA.  Check the status of goumis

 

Clove currant  I really like ours. Seems slow to get going, not as big and robust as other currants, but as delicious smelling as it sounds, and pretty tough.  Berries edible raw, but if you don't like "that currant flavor" you still might not like this one, as mild as it is.  E WA has a lovely, salmon-orange native currant that is unbeatable for flavor.  Look for it in the nurseries.

 

Aronia (needs sugar, I know, but it is pretty)  Gorgeous, wonderful, doesn't need sugar for juice, esp. if mixed with apple juice.  Gorgeous, tough plant.

 

Serviceberries/Saskatoons  Tends here in WW to get this weird orange fungus.  Pretty, though, and tough.  Slow to start grow.  Tends to bushiness.

 

European plums - there is a Golden Weeping Italian that looks interesting, as well as 'Nichols', a red one.  But I want taste, too.  We have terrible luck with stome fruit in WW.  Good luck!  The gage plums and others have prized flavors.  But I wouldn't know..... WAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

 

We already have raspberries and a pear, and will add an apricot in the more normal line of things....

 

Any other advice on edible landscaping?  First, make sure plants are self-pollinating, or that you have a good pollinator if not.  Self-pollinating plants still might do better with a pollinator.  Make sure you have the space.  Same for any landscaping: research the final shape of the plant.  Some plants that people want as trees try to grow more shrubby.  The "maximum" height is anything but.  Also, people really want X, even though it is a bear to grow locally (see "plums" above for me!)

 

Finally, know your microclimate.  If the hardiness is rated at -10, if you are in a windy area you need to add another 10 to that.  Conversely, in a sheltered location, you could get away with growing something that otherwise is not rated for your area.  We had a zone 9 vine growing happily on our zone 7 porch!

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks, SweetSilver.  

 

There are Cornell Cherries in the parks here, and I like them for looks, but I've heard the named varieties selected for fruit taste much better.

 

I'll check again, but I seem to remember concluding that we don't get enough heat for long enough to get kiwis ripe other than the arctic ones.  At least they are pretty - those are the variegated ones, and one of the female ones is supposed to be somewhat variegated as well.

 

I'm looking into the goumi.  So far it appears that it is not as invasive as the other Elaeganous, maybe since it has bigger seeds - the seeds don't spread as much.  

 

Not sure on the currants for taste then, but they smell good in bloom and are pretty and drought tolerant, which is hard to beat.

 

Do you have a juicer, then for things like aronia, or do you get the juice out another way?

 

I don't think Serviceberries here get that fungus - must be with the wet weather over there.  They are native here, hopefully named varieties taste a little better than wild.

 

Yeah, I think the drier climate here is good for most of the stone fruit.  The renters across the street have Italian plums, and they are no-maintence trees, pretty much.  

 

I really don't know about microclimates - it does make me wonder if having the apricot by the kitchen window (which is a low point in the back yard) is a bad idea.  It does face south, and is a brick house, so maybe it would mitigate it, though I wonder if it could make it worse?  The brick could heat it up and have the tree bloom early and then a frost could wipe out the blooms when the cold air settles there?   Dunno.  Hopefully the plant person who works with the landscaper can help with that stuff, as well as helping to envision fitting things in for the short and longer term (filling in with annuals or perennials until stuff takes off).  She'll also probably moderate my plant catalogue induced delusions of grandeur....;)

 

Any other stuff you've had or seen that would be worth looking into?  

 

ETA - yep, I know of Raintree, as well as One Green World and Whitman Nursery as well.  Yummy catalogues.  

post #4 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigteamug View Post
 

Thanks, SweetSilver.  

 

I'll check again, but I seem to remember concluding that we don't get enough heat for long enough to get kiwis ripe other than the arctic ones.  At least they are pretty - those are the variegated ones, and one of the female ones is supposed to be somewhat variegated as well.

 

I'm looking at the Raintree catalog and it does look like the artci beauty (kolomikta) kiwis area little hardier than the hardy (arguta) kiwis like ananasnaja.  It looks like they would need some shade, especially in EWA.  I think you would ripen the hardy kiwis just fine (they are little and smooth and....oh I miss them!), but the zone 5 rating for the arguta hardy kiwis might skim too close to your winter lows.  Zone 3 would be a better bet, but ripening?  Not a problem.  If they ripened in WW, they can ripen in EWA.  They do like a touch of chill on them for that extra sweetness.  I think we'd harvest in October (all of them) and leave them on the stems, and the ones that weren't quite ripe would ripen very nicely.  

 

 

Do you have a juicer, then for things like aronia, or do you get the juice out another way?  Jelly.  I do jelly.  Bt there are those neat cone thingamadeelies with the wooden pestle perfect for juicing aronia and sea buckthorn berries, as well whatever else you want to do.  They are a metal cone on a stand.

 

I really don't know about microclimates - it does make me wonder if having the apricot by the kitchen window (which is a low point in the back yard) is a bad idea.  It does face south, and is a brick house, so maybe it would mitigate it, though I wonder if it could make it worse?  The brick could heat it up and have the tree bloom early and then a frost could wipe out the blooms when the cold air settles there?   Dunno.  Exactly!  This is a terrible place for early bloomers like apricots and peaches, especially in your climate where they have ample time to ripen.  The best place for them is where they get less sun in the late winter/early spring, but full sun in late spring and summer.  You still might get late frosts on your blossoms in EWA, no matter what you do, but placing them near the house (south side, even) is inviting the problem in every year.  You'll also want to avoid any other places with frost pockets.  Both grandparents had "ranches" in the Naches area and my sister is old enough to remember the middle-of-the-night alarms in the spring.  Back then, they used smudge pots.  Now, it's more about the fans.  A homeowner could use a bed sheet or 5.

 

Any other stuff you've had or seen that would be worth looking into?  I'll keep thinking....

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